Schools closing at midday after snow falls on Eastbourne

Initial snowfall on Eastbourne seafront on January 18th 2013 E04008P
Initial snowfall on Eastbourne seafront on January 18th 2013 E04008P

SNOW began falling in Eastbourne shortly after 9.30am this morning, with forecasters predicting up to five centimetres of snow set to fall on the town by the end of the day.

Alfriston School was the first school in the area to announce an emergency closure because of the adverse weather, with others set to follow suit.

Herstmonceux Church of England Primary School followed suit shortly afterwards by announcing that it will also be closing at midday.

Hazel Court Secondary School in Shinewater had also notified parents that it would be closing at midday.

Other schools affected were: Lindfield Secondary School in Eastbourne, South Downs Community Special School in Eastbourne and Annecy Catholic Primary School in Seaford.

The Met Office has issued a severe weather warning for South East England for Friday, warning of snow throughout East and West Sussex, and a danger of some drifting.

With the snow getting heavier, East Sussex County Council announced that the school will be closing at 12 noon with lunch being served at 11.30am. Parents were welcome to collect their children earlier if they wish.

With much of Hampshire and parts of West Sussex hit by overnight snow, gritters were out this morning from 5am and then at 9am treating primary routes in East Sussex.

Southern Rail had anticipated the snowfall by amending its timetable to London. The half-hourly services from Eastbourne and Littlehampton, which normally join at Haywards Heath, will instead each run hourly, but will generally comprise more carriages.

Snow began falling at Gatwick Airport shortly after 9am. The airport has urged travellers to allow extra time for the journeys and to stay in touch with their airlines ahead of setting out to Gatwick.

As snow moves across the county, Sussex Police is offering advice on how to stay safe.

Superintendent Grenville Wilson of Sussex Police’s Operations Department said: “As snow starts to affect the county Sussex Police is working closely with its partner agencies to ensure there is as little disruption as possible.

“Drivers are reminded to check the weather forecast for the entire length of your journey before setting out and only make a journey if absolutely necessary.

“Completely clear your windscreen of ice and snow before driving and check that your vehicle’s lights are working.

“Carry an emergency pack in your boot - a first aid kit, torch, blanket, food and drink, a tow rope and shovel could all come in useful if you do find yourself getting stuck. Also make sure you have a fully charged mobile phone and water proof shoes.

“When driving in snow and ice you will need to change the way you drive. Your vehicle will not start, stop or steer in the same way it usually does. Stopping distances are greatly increased in icy conditions, so slow down and keep a bigger distance between you and the vehicle in front. Brake or accelerate carefully and gradually, and take corners very slowly.

“Pedestrians and cyclists should also ensure they have high visibility clothing to ensure they are seen by drivers.

“As it is unclear how long the cold weather is going to last we would remind people to check on their more vulnerable neighbours to ensure they are safe and warm.”